An eye for an eye (or a hoof for a flower)
I’m sure there are people scattered all over the Berkshires who to this day remember the screaming child from that night. (And of course, we were seated in the front so it was a undoubtedly a loooonngg walk for my mom and dad).
Many years later, I find myself living in a part of New Jersey that is overrun with deer. They decimate gardens. They run out in front of cars on a regular basis. I myself have almost collided with a deer on two separate occasions and have resigned myself to the fact that if I live in this part of the world long enough, eventually I will hit one.
Deer are a huge problem here. It’s not really the deer’s fault. Only a couple of decades ago, this part of N.J. was mostly woods, field and horse pasture. Those natural spaces have given way to one subdivision and housing project after another as suburban sprawl has radiated further and further from the nucleus of New York City. Where else are the deer – who were here first – supposed to go besides backyards and roadways?
But still, it’s a problem. Anyone who lives out here and wants any type of landscaping is left with two choices: Plant a limited amount of boring plants (think boxwoods and evergreens) or put up an eight-foot-high deer fence.
My first year here, I planted a number of “deer resistant” plants only to wake one morning to learn the hard way that a herd of deer will eat almost anything when hungry enough. The tears shed that morning were not quite as severe as the ones in the theater in 1975, but it was close.
After that I tried a number of deer repellents including noxious smelling sprays (including coyote urine – I don’t even want to think about how that was collected), human hair and clanking cans tied to bushes. Nothing worked, so four years ago we installed a deer fence and I’ve been a happy gardening fool ever since.
Well, almost ever since. It seems that we have a breach in our security. Two weeks ago, while strolling through the yard I noticed that all nine huge, mature hostas planted around the trees on the far side of the yard were eaten down to two-inch stems. Every lovely leaf was gone.
Could rabbits have done that?I wondered. I already knew the answer, but I didn’t want to believe it. Then three mornings later, I opened up my curtains to see six deer standing in my backyard.
I yelled out a few really choice swear words that I save only for times when I am most supremely pissed off and it’s like they KNEW there was one mad gardening mama in the vicinity – off they bolted toward the woods. Since then, we’ve been trying to figure out how they are getting in. There are two suspicious spots where trees fell on the fence. We repaired them, but huge logs remain giving the deer a nature-made step stool into our yard.
Every morning I open the blinds, hold my breath and carefully scan the garden for damage. While we were in Massachusetts this weekend, they got in and ate the tops off every single phlox plant in my yard. About two dozen of them. All. Gone.
I hate when I see them dead on the side of the road, because I feel that’s just a waste of life. But as for hunting? Yeah, I’m not really so much opposed to that anymore.
If I ever let my girls watch Bambi, I don’t think I’ll have the same tears to shed. Venison anyone?
Labels: My soap box